Some people believe if you want something badly enough, you’ll work until you get it. Others believe that no matter how hard they work or how good they are, career opportunities will keep passing them by. Both these opinions might be true.
To quote a couple of very successful people, both of whom had a similar thought:
If you think you can do a thing or think you can’t do a thing, you’re right. (Henry Ford, attributed)
If you think you can, you can. And if you think you can’t, you’re right. (Mary Kay Ash, Mary Kay Cosmetics)
I remember once reading about a very successful author who had been told early in his career that he would never make a writer and he should go get a real job. Luckily, he ignored that or maybe he used it to spur himself on to work harder. Regardless, the outcome was that he proved the person’s assessment dead wrong.
Whether someone else has predicted failure for you or you’re the one doing the predicting, it’s well worth considering: What’s holding you back from your version of career success? And how much weight do you want to give to that prediction?
I just read an article by Laura Stampler on Business Insider, titled “The Incredible Story Of This Woman’s Meteoric Rise From Receptionist To CEO.” It’s a real eye-opener. The woman in question is Karen Kaplan, who is now the CEO of a $184 million ad agency (Hill Holiday) but started in 1982 as the receptionist. The day after she started work, two girls from the switchboard room confronted her and bluntly told her she was absolutely at the bottom of the totem pole in the company. The inference was that she would never get anywhere there. According to the article, her reaction was to think, “We’ll see about that.”
Was the path to the top spot fast or easy? Not noticeably! But she did keep moving and growing and moving (up) again until she got where she is now. She could have accepted the valuation of those mean-spirited switchboard operators and believed there was no point in trying to improve her situation. They certainly didn’t make things easy for her. She didn’t ask them to. She set her sights on making her future better than the present.
Are you the one standing in your own way–either because of beliefs you’ve held about limited capabilities, scarce opportunities, etc., or because you’ve accepted the evaluation of others as to your “inferiority”? If so, isn’t it about time you re-thought that attitude?
On the other hand, if you honestly see obstacles in your path, can you do something constructive about them–find a way to go over, around, under or through them to get where you want to go? If so, start now!
Just remember that your goal doesn’t need to be gaining the position of CEO in your current company or elsewhere. Career success can have as many definitions as this planet has people. Whatever your definition is, keep that in mind when you assess your chances and what might be blocking your path. Then choose your actions accordingly.